The Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations planned for 2008 will have a distinctive East Tennessee flavor to them.
That’s because the keynote speaker for the culmination of an expanded week of activities is Keith McDaniel, the filmmaker responsible for the movie “The Clinton 12,” the story of the first 12 African-American students at Clinton High School.
“That is our focal point this year for the event,” said Christi Fightmaster, MLK Day committee member. “We’re really excited about the movie. We’re going to do a free showing at The Palace at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16.”
Fightmaster said McDaniel will be at the screening. “He’ll be able to welcome the crowd and tell how this film came to be,” she said. “He is also our keynote speaker on Monday during the program at Alcoa High School.”
The movie is narrated by James Earl Jones. “We’re hoping for a good turnout. It’s a worthwhile couple of hours. It’s in our backyard and so few people know about it,” Fightmaster said.
In addition to the filmmaker, some members of the Clinton 12 are planning to come to the celebration. “A few are still living in the area,” Fightmaster said.
The weeklong agenda of events includes:
New Providence Community Fellowship -- 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 14, at New Providence Presbyterian Church. Bring a side dish to share.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day committee members speak - 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. lecture series at Maryville College in Alumni Gym. The topic is “What Would Dr. King Say?”
Martin Luther King Jr. Business Luncheon - noon, Friday, Jan. 16, in the Associates Building at Denso, Inc., Robert C. Jackson Drive, Maryville. The event is by reservation only, and they can be made by calling the Blount County Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $25 a person. The speaker is Christopher Jackson, location manager for Alcoa, Inc., Tennessee Operations.
“The Clinton 12” - 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 16 at the Palace Theater. Admission is free. Filmmaker Keith McDaniel will be on hand to talk about the film.
Community worship service - 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 18, at Rest Haven Baptist Church. The Rev. Dr. Eric Leake is the scheduled speaker.
Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration - 12:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19. Meet at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center at 209 E. Franklin St., Alcoa, for a parade to Alcoa High School. The program starts at the gym at 2 p.m.
For the Monday celebration, Keith McDaniel will be on site and organizers are hoping some members of the Clinton 12 will also be at the service. There will be an open panel discussion with McDaniel and any members of the Clinton 12.
Fightmaster said the celebration is an important event but it’s not just for one community.
“It’s not an Alcoa event, a Maryville event. It’s a Blount County event. It’s real important we come together as a community and celebrate our diversity and that’s the whole point,” she said. “It’s a time for the community to all come together and really celebrate each other.”